Tuesday 5th April 2022
A shorter than usual and unashamedly self indulgent post today following the wonderful bus rally based on Lewes organised by David Mulpeter and the team at Seven Sisters Bus & Coach I was pleased to attend on Sunday.
The rally was arranged at short notice to raise funds for Ukraine and the devastated people suffering intolerable hardship, pain and death in that country.
Despite the short notice there was a great turn out of buses as well as a good crowd of people attending taking rides, photographs and supporting the good cause.
The team had arranged for three routes each running a half hourly service.
Route 1 ran to Seaford on the hour and half past; route 2 at 10 and 40 minutes past each hour to Uckfield and route 3 at 20 and 50 minutes past each hour to Sheffield Park station on the preserved Bluebell Railway with some journeys connecting with steam trains.
Some journeys on route 2 ran via Isfield station and some on route 3 ran via Newick Green.
The extensive vehicle selection included former Southdown and Brighton & Hove buses including Bristol VRT 642 looking resplendent in the second version of the Brighton & Hove livery after the initial one introduced when Southdown was first split into four divisions in April 1985 when Brighton & Hove was recreated initially within that company before becoming a separate company the following year – goodness, that was 37 years ago last weekend.
Open top Bristol VRT 617 in the livery of the Southdown West Sussex division created at the same time incorporating a colour scheme based on the original pre NBC livery was also on duty and looking resplendent.
Giving toŵn tours of Lewes during the day was undoubtedly the most elderly of vehicles present – the 93 year old Leyland TD1 kept in the Stagecoach heritage fleet having inherited it from Southdown when Stagecoach bought the company in 1989.
I remember the bus doing sterling service at special events when I first arrived at Southdown in Brighton forty years ago including a memorable trip down from London taking part in the HCVC Rally. It’s a great credit to the engineers who look after her that she still performs magnificently as her centenary approaches later this decade.
It was also great to see The former London Transport RML 2317 on the road. We were delighted to acquire this vehicle at Brighton & Hove in 2009 from our sister Go-Ahead company Metrobus at Orpington who in turn had acquired it from sister company London General at Mitchum in 2004 who’d acquired it ten years earlier from South London at Thornton Heath where it had ended up in 1989 from London Buses having returned to London Transport in 1984 from London Country where it had passed from London Transport in 1970 having commenced in service with the latter in 1965. Phew.
You might wonder what a Routemaster was doing at Brighton & Hove. It came about because my colleague managing director at Metrobus Alan Eatwell decided it was no longer relevant to that company’s fleet and as B&H had many Private Hire clients who loved the elderly Bristol K (6447) which was regularly used for lucrative weddings and special occasions, the idea of also having a former London Routemaster in the fleet seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
But what livery to paint it in? London Transport green which it wore at Metrobus didn’t seem appropriate so a colleague came up with the great idea of painting it in the livery used by Tilling up to 1935 when that company ran buses in Brighton using their own name although the company was called Brighton, Hove & Preston United. At that time Tilling also ran an extensive bus network in south London – hence the link with London. In 1935 Tilling created Brighton, Hove & District and from then onwards used that fleet name. The bus is now owned by Seven Sisters Bus & Coach and is looking as fabulous as ever.
As well as buses from Sussex including some lovely former Eastbourne Corporation buses including a Leyland PD2 East Lancs …
and AEC Regent …..
…. others came from much further afield, including Maidstone ….
…. Swindon ….
…. and even Tyneside….
It was great to meet so many friends, former colleagues and contacts through social media on Sunday and thanks very much to all the kind feedback about these blogs.
As always with running days of this genre it was good to see so much interest being generated among the public passing through central Lewes and on the routes being traversed. I’d missed the South East Bus Festival at the Kent County Showground in Detling on Saturday due to another commitment so it was lovely to see Sunday’s event in Lewes.
Many thanks to the organisers for putting the day together and all the vehicle owners for their support. At the time of writing it ‘s raised almost £2,500 for Ukraine, which is brilliant.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS